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Thread: Staff DVD Player Review: Digitor G1605 vs Nintaus N9808 vs Akira DVD-2012SE

  1. #1

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    Staff DVD Player Review: Digitor G1605 vs Nintaus N9808 vs Akira DVD-2012SE

    Being a gadget freak I couldn't just review the discs, I had to have a go at the hardware. Putting my cash on the line and with help from DVDOG (for the loan of the Akira) I managed to churn out the following review.

    The Box (first impressions):
    The Digitor was packed very neatly, with everything in its place and overall looks like it is worth more than the meagre asking price. The unit is a lot smaller than your average DVD or CD player, so the box is quite compact (but only just smaller than the Akira). This is the first thing you notice when unpacking. First impressions are definitely of quality with this DVD player.

    The Nintaus is definitely a little more no frills in the packaging department, but what it lacks there it makes up by including some component video cables. First impressions of the Nintaus are generally good, but it is certainly a cruder device.

    The Akira is similar to the Nintaus, the box is on the minimalist side. The packaging is rather basic, but everything is secure. As a bonus, a composite video and stereo RCA audio cable is included.

    Excess packaging is not required in this day and age. As long as the box adequately protects the product, that is the most important thing.

    Another little thing of passing interest was the quality of the loading trays. Each unit had a basic tray load mechanism, similar to a PC CD/DVD drive. The quality of these didn’t instil much confidence, but I am sure they will do the job (at least for a couple of years). To start picking however, I was surprised to find the Nintaus units tray did not come out as far as the others, it seemed to be short by about 2cm, so this could be a little frustrating for those people (like me) who have difficulty remove DVD/CD’s from the tray. The Nintaus also suffered from a slow delay in the time it took the tray to open on pressing the eject button, sometimes resulting in pressing the button more than once and having the tray retract straight away.

    Digitor - 4
    Nintaus - 3
    Akira - 3
    (All Scores out of 5)

    Setup:
    All three units are a doddle to connect. I have used the S-Video and Coax digital out connections (optical for the Akira as my amplifier ran out of coax connections).

    The Digitor has a limited number of outputs and does not have onboard decoding, other than the connections I have used there is a composite video and stereo RCA connections. On power up, all I had to do was press the menu button on the remote, tell it my type of TV and set the sound so that digital out for dts and Dolby Digital was enabled, and that was it.

    The Nintaus has quite a lot more connections on the rear, other than the connections used there is two composite video outs, a component video out (to match the included cables) and stereo RCA connections. This unit also does not feature on board decoding. On power up, all that was required was to define the type of TV in general setup, allow SPDIF to be enabled (odd as it only has Coax out) and that was it.

    The Akira is easily the most comprehensive of the three, over the Nintaus it has 5.1 out, optical digital out and progressive on/off for component out. When plugged in the machine was as easy as the other two to setup. Using the remote ‘setup’ button, the user just has to select the type of TV being used.

    Overall the Digitor is a bit more intuitive than the Nintaus or Akira, its setup menu/remote/manual is a lot clearer. The Nintaus’ manual is clear visually but the text is in Chinglish and is quite simply terrible, thankfully I didn’t need it, but for the average punter this is inexcusable. The Akira manual is also quite good and has many pages on the units operation, however there is no index and no page numbers, which is odd. The test is in fairly concise English, but not perfect.

    Digitor - 4
    Nintaus - 3
    Akira - 3.5

    Remotes:
    The Digitor remote has the best layout, but the least amount of functions / buttons. It is also shaped nicely for comfortable holding. The buttons are different shapes and colours, making it easier to operate. The battery compartment on the Digitor does not hold the batteries very well and a couple of times during the review the remote was not working because the batteries where not making good contact. The only way to make it work again was to take the batteries out and reinsert them. It is a shame about the above problem as this remote looks like a quality unit, with a flat silver appearance compared to the shiny look of the others.

    The Nintaus remote has considerably more functions on it, but good luck finding any of them quickly. It is not particularly well thought out, they have used different shapes and colours for some buttons, but the labelling is poor and you end up pressing the wrong button for the function you want. Points go the Nintaus for having glow in the dark navigation buttons. This remote is also a lot larger than the Digitor one.

    The remote for the Akira is long and thin, quite different to the other two, but with similar size buttons to the Nintaus, this shape is pleasing/comfortable to hold. However it is good the navigation buttons are a different size, otherwise it would be impossible to use in a darkened room. This remote has labelling issues similar to the Nintaus. The silver colour is a little cheap looking, like the Nintaus again. I believe the shiny appearance marks too easily and the Akira remote has a couple of rub marks already.

    Digitor - 2.5
    Nintaus - 3
    Akira - 3

    On Screen Display:
    The Nintaus’ display is fairly basic, although to its credit it has a nice little welcome screen with switchable screen saver. During audio playback the screen is a flat blue colour with white on black track and time displays.

    The Digitor is a little more polished with more pleasing looking graphics. It also has a blue screen display during playback, but with a nice DVD logo displayed and colour shading. The displayed text on the Digitor is blue within a green box on the blue background unlike the black box with white text of the Nintaus. For a machine that has no display on the unit the Digitor does not seem to have a way to keep the track/time displayed on screen, after 5 seconds it turns off. This is very annoying.

    The Akira has a nice beach scene in the background during audio playback, with very similar time/track displays to the Nintaus, but slightly smaller and more polished. The Akira also has a screen saver if the unit is left idle and on.

    All machines display a stable image.

    Digitor - 3
    Nintaus - 3.5
    Akira - 4.5

    Playback:
    For the purpose of testing I used the following:

    DVD: R1 Superbit – The Fifth Element, R1 RCE – Auto Focus
    R4 Action – Event Horizon
    R4 Known Faulty DVD – Keeping the Faith (has video playback problem on Pioneer)
    CD: Jeff Buckley – Grace, Pet Shop Boys – Discography, Yazoo – The Best Of
    dts Audio CD: Queen – A Night at the Opera (DVD Audio with dts included), Sting – Brand New Day
    WMA/MP3: I used two different CDs for this test. The first one, an EMTEC CDR, had all the songs in separate folders, the second, a Verbatim CDRW, had all the songs in the root directory, or more simply no folders.

    DVD:
    Starting with ‘Event Horizon’, which I used for audio (this is by no means a reference title). I selected chapter 5, this has a good mix of action, music and special effects.

    The Akira produced very good sound, plenty of defined surround effects, clear centre and thumping bass. The Digitor and Nintaus were exactly the same.

    After being frustrated by the sameness of the performance of these machines I was relishing the use of my ‘dodgy’ DVD, ‘Keeping the Faith’. On the Pioneer this DVD has some passages where the image flickers to the point of being blurred and unpleasant to watch, this lasts for several seconds at a time. This is particularly bad at chapter 3 from 6:09 to 6:10 and chapter 6 14:21 to 14:30. On to testing and each machine played straight through these points with no obvious flaw at all, amazing.

    Moving on to ‘The Fifth Element’ R1 superbit, I used chapter 5 again, to test video quality and frame smoothness.

    At last there was a difference, the picture on the Digitor was slightly jerky during the space ship scenes and some of the other scenes where the camera was panning. The Nintaus and Akira were perfect during the same passage of film. Of note was the screen flicker during the menu screen, the Digitor and Nintaus had prominent flicker, but the Akira had a considerably more stable image.

    Last but not least, I tested the R1 RCE disc of ‘Auto Focus’. This is a known problem for some older machines and I thought it would be perfect for testing.

    The Digitor displayed the region coding map, which is a bad sign as it means the RCE is doing its job. However after using the multi zone crack for this DVD player (hidden menu), the RCE disc was played without any hassles. A funny thing with the Digitor is that it played the R1 title ok, but needed the multi zone crack for the R1 RCE. The Nintaus and Akira machines played the DVD without any changes, so these are true multi-zone out of the box.

    I think a summary for the DVD side of these players, is that they are all good playback devices. Perfect for someone new to DVD or someone needing a second machine as a back up or for the kids.

    Digitor - 3
    Nintaus - 4
    Akira - 4

    CD:
    All three units automatically start playing an inserted audio CD. Listening to Jeff Buckley, track 5, So Real as a starting point. All units sound very good, no chance of picking, if blind tested. The stereo imaging was spot on, the frequency range and detail was great for such cheap machines. Moving on to the Pet Shop Boys, I played track 5, It’s a Sin, once again there is nothing at all in it. Just for the record I have two copies of both the above CD’s (don’t ask) so testing was just a matter of pause and change device, no need to worry about audio memory!! I put on Yazoo next, track 2, Ode to Boy, has some serious bass. Once again there was no obvious difference and all three machines handled the low bass and high frequencies very well.

    Digitor - 5
    Nintaus - 5
    Akira - 5

    dts Audio CD:
    Putting the Queen disc in the Nintaus achieved zip, it couldn’t understand what type of disc was inserted. The Digitor and Akira understood the disc without a problem, dts and PCM playback was not an issue. The Queen DVD-A/dts CD also has video, with lyrics and menus. The quality of the video from this title is fairly average, with a lot of flickering. The video quality in the menus and music video on the Akira was much better than on the Digitor. A change of CD and success for the Nintaus, playing the Sting dts audio CD, this unit had no issues. I used track 1, a Thousand Years. The channel separation, detail and surround channel use seemed to be very good. Over to the Digitor and on inserting the dts CD the player identifies it by name and type and begins playing. The Akira also played this title without an issue. There is no obvious sound difference between the three machines on the Sting CD.

    Digitor - 4
    Nintaus - 3.5
    Akira - 5
    Last edited by redbears; 27-10-2003 at 11:55 AM.

  2. #2

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    MP3 / WMA:
    The Akira displays a folder list on loading of the EMTEC CDR.

    The first folder contains WMA files only and as no files were visible, I realised that the Akira does not read WMA files (nor does it claim to).

    For the MP3 test, I selected a folder in the middle of the list and proceeded to playback the first track. Navigation was very easy, but the player took a good 20~30 seconds to start playing. Thinking I had done something wrong I repeated this task several times, each time with the same result. Changing to another folder to select a different track does not interrupt play, this newly selected track loaded very quickly. Swapping back to the very first track caused a further 10 second delay. Changing to a third track took about 2~3 seconds. I suspect this CDR may be a little well used and might have been causing the Akira some trouble reading. An interesting observation is that long titles are not shown fully, nor does there seem to be an obvious way to show the whole track name, something to keep in mind for the perfectionists among us. Otherwise playback performance of this unit was very good.
    Using the CDRW disc, the Akira displays the track list. It is the slowest to load the disc. Playback takes about 2~3 seconds after pressing play. Track change is quick and without any issues. Sound quality is very good.

    The Nintaus also displays a folder list on loading of the CDR.

    The songs in the WMA folder were visible and played without any issue.

    On to the MP3 test as above, the first track loaded and commenced play within 2 seconds. The navigation on this machine is also very simple, however selecting a different folder halts play of the current track, unlike the Akira or Digitor. The swap between the first, second and back to first tracks was as quick as I could navigate the folders. The third song played straight away also. It seems that the Akira was definitely having issues with the CDR. Like the Akira, the Nintaus doesn’t show enough of the track titles. Also like the Akira the playback of the compressed music was very good.

    The Nintaus handles the CDRW disc very well, it is quick to load and playback starts immediately once play is pressed. Track change is quick and playback sound quality is very good.

    The Digitor also displays a folder listing on loading the CDR.

    The songs in the WMA folder were visible and played without any issue.

    With the first MP3 track, there was a 1 second delay in starting. Track change is quick with the second track loading straight away, this player is very similar in performance to the Nintaus in this navigate and load test. The Digitor requires you to press the OK button to select a track and then Play to initiate playback, a little cumbersome, but easy enough to get used to. The Digitor did have a big playback issue however, one which will lose it some points. At times for no reason, the first track played on a loaded disc would stop about 10~15 seconds after starting, when pressing play again the track would play through without stopping. Like the other two machines, playback quality is very good. Where the Digitor regains lost ground is on the display of MP3/WMA file information and on screen instructions. The full file name is displayed, in classy, easy to read text, whereas the other two machines text display is a little large and blocky.

    Like with the CDR, the Digitor had some issues with the CDRW. On loading the disc the player displays a track list and automatically commences playback, which unfortunately stops abruptly 10~15 seconds into the first song, as mentioned above. Once this hurdle is overcome, playback is fine. Track change is quick and sound quality is very good.

    Digitor - 2
    Nintaus - 4
    Akira - 3

    JPEG CD:
    The last logical test is for JPEG CD playback.

    The JPEG CD used was a BASF CDRW with five folders, with ten images in each folder. I have several different image sizes, so I tried ten of each of the following (MP is Mega Pixel), 6.3 MP, 3 MP, 2MP, 1MP and a lowly 0.75MP (an old DC25 Kodak).

    The Digitor displayed the folder list on loading. It took about 5~10 seconds to display a 6.3MP file, 2~5 seconds for a 3MP file, about 2 seconds for 2MP, and the two lower resolution files took about 1 second to load. Navigating between folders was fairly easy.

    The Nintaus displayed the folder list on loading. It took about 4~6 seconds to display a 6.3MP file, 2~4 seconds for a 3MP file, about 2 seconds for 2MP, and the two lower resolution files took about 1 second to load. The Nintaus automatically played each folder once it was selected. The navigation between images and folders was straightforward.

    The Akira also displayed the folder list on loading and had similar image load times to the Nintaus. This machine was different from the other two in that it has a preview of the image, so you can view it before loading, this is a great idea. The menu navigation on the Akira was also the best of the review machines.

    Digitor - 3
    Nintaus - 4
    Akira - 4.5

    Overall :
    The Digitor G1605 is a basic DVD player that will play anything you throw at it. I’d like to use a work mates comment here “It’ll even play a biscuit!” The overall package is classy and well put together, but little things like the remote and the lack of a display on the unit lose it marks. Also the issue of cutting out during MP3 playback and jitters during DVD playback didn’t help either. Selling for $119 at DSE (They claim a RRP of $139.52) it is reasonably well priced but is only just better than average in this contest.

    The Nintaus N9808 is a well known cheap DVD player. This machine lacks a little of the finesse that the other two have in general operation and appearance. It failed one of the playback tests, the Queen dts CD, which lost it points. What cannot be faulted is its ability to play DVDs, MP3/WMA CD’s and normal music CDs. This is a great no thrills machine. This unit can be bought from JB Hifi for $129.

    The Akira brand is new to Australia. The Akira DVD-2012SE is easily the best featured machine here, the crunch being progressive scan component video and optical digital audio connections. To be fair to the others it is at a slightly higher price point. This machine had equal best DVD playback, and was the top performer on the dts CD and JPEG tests. While it did seem to have some issues with burnt CDRs and doesn’t play WMA files. These last two issues may have brought its overall score down a tad, but this player is clearly the better unit in this line up.

    Final Scores
    Digitor - 3
    Nintaus - 3.5
    Akira - 4

    Summary:
    It is easy to criticize the cheap DVD machines available, I know, as I have been guilty of it. The idea of this test was to see what these machines really are like. I must admit I was very surprised as to how good these players actually are. So for $100~$130 outlay you really are getting value for money and with less playback restrictions than some of the brand name machines. There may be a perceived cloud over quality, but most people would probably upgrade or get another machine and have these as a backup, in the long run.

    As a closing comment, I would say that unless you want to spend more than $500 on a brand name DVD player or need additional features that these units don’t support, you would be mad to spend any more than $150 on a DVD player.

    I conducted this review on my own initiative. The players were bought from DSE and JB Hifi. DVDOG was kind enough to loan me an Akira. This review is as unbiased as possible, no gifts, money or other incentives were provided. Myself, EYO and region4dvd.net will have no financial gain from the reviewing of these players from their respective retailers, distributors or manufacturers. So keep an eye out on eBay, you might see a Digitor or Nintuas for auction.

    ** Just a quick update to let you know that the Akira is still not available to the public. The reviewer has attempted to contact the distributor, but there has been no reply at this stage (20.01.04). **
    *** I have been in contact with the distributor and to date there is no firm release date for the Akira machine. I will post any updates when known here. (15.02.04). ***

    ** No further news on the Akira, might be a non starter. (31.05.04)**

    If you'd like to contact the reviewer about anything to do with this review, you can do so by sending me a PM
    Last edited by redbears; 05-11-2004 at 08:34 PM.

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